Vol. 3, No. 35
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Romans 8:35
The bedrock of our Christian faith is the unmerited, fathomless marvel of the love of God exhibited on the Cross of Calvary.
This bedrock is our Rock of Gibraltar; our unassailable fortress. This is not armchair theology; it is the deep assurance that comes out of at least seven possible circumstantial enemies to our faith:
1. Tribulation. The New Testament uses this term from the Greek at least 37 times. The idea portrayed is that of being “squeezed,” placed under pressure to discover worth and value.
2. Distress. It is “helplessly hemmed in” with no hope for retreat or safety. When reduced to extremity, real quality comes to the surface. Where tribulation has to do with external situations, distress or anguish has to do with our inward reaction.
3. Persecution. This is in the picture of being hunted down or a pursuing as a wild uncaged animal. To oppress by chasing with intensity in order to afflict, harass, annoy, or “give ’em the mental axe.”
4. Famine. This touches the bank account and pocketbook. It is the economic side of life where one cannot afford to buy essentials, whereas once one had sufficiency and power to take care of needs in this area.
5. Nakedness. Poverty of wardrobe; one cannot afford to buy adequate clothing. In winter, this would be particularly difficult. The Greek carries the flavor of “indecency on parade.”
6. Peril. We are exposed to dangers; in jeopardy (not the TV game!). 2 Corinthians 11:26 uses this term eight times; Paul’s inclusion of his personal testimony.
7. Sword. There is a great violence carried to the utmost extreme of execution pictured in this Greek word.
Not much seems to be left out in Paul’s disclosure of difficulty. Yet the point is that NONE or NOTHING that is listed can separate us from God’s love as found in Christ Jesus. Some would think they can, but they cannot!
“No” Paul says. In all these things we are super conquerors. Actually it is not us. It is God Himself. Rather than dividing us from Christ, these draw us closer to Him; as long as we stay focused on Who is in control, Who has the power, Who loves, and Who knows all.
These things make us cling harder. They scare us and make us run back to Him.
When we are independent (my mom said that means, stubborn), and think we can make it on our own, these seven things strike – not all at once, but some or one at a time.
We start whimpering and running for home, and we cling all the closer. God is fully sufficient, but we have to believe that. If not, God asks if we want cheese with that whine.
In reality, we cannot in ourselves defeat them, so when God steps in we are really more than conquerors because of Who we employ with out faith.
The French have a saying: Vainqueurs et au-dela; conquerors, and more than that!
Christian, what can separate you from the love of God?
– it is yourself!